The Lewis book began with assertion that the world is diverse, that there are thousands of cultures inhabiting the 195 countries in the world and that while one can mimic culture, we don't lose our own. Culture becomes engrained in the development of people from birth, it creates mental blocks and determines how one views the world.
While Lewis states that trying to bridge cultural gaps in such circumstances would be entirely insurmountable, he argues that as well as there being universal human traits, cultures can conveniently be categorised, reducing cultural differences.
There have been many key points of learning so far from the course, particularly in relation to leadership styles and how time is viewed across culture, both of which are critical when it comes to transnational business.
In relation to Russia, what I found to be most surprising was the extent to which all the readings have shown Russia as being based on collective as opposed to individualistic work. While it may be expected, given Russia's communist recent history and unsurprising in terms of the well documented levels of corruption and nepotism, I was surprised there was a focus on teamwork within businesses. Looking at many of the studies conducted, most of them being pre 2000's, I would pose the question that were a study to be conducted today, regarding perceptions of effective leadership in Russia, being further from the collapse of the Soviet Union, from uncertainty and whole generation who have not lived under communism now entering the workforce, whether we may see a growth in individualism in Russia?
Further, I found the Hofstede report illuminating when it described Russia as a more feminine society- stereotypes would have you believe that it is a much more masculine society. However, the femininity depiction fits in with the more family orientated society as depicted in Lewis and Ambrozheichik.
Apologies for the pictures, this Sauli Niinistö the previous one was half of Putin.
With regard to Finland, I have perhaps witnessed most of the things I have learned- the fact that Finns are good listeners, that they reactive that there is a preference for short meetings- and the readings perhaps have just pulled all of these things together in written form.
Perhaps the most surprisingly connection Lewis drew was that between Japan and Finland as one would simply assume that with the distance and complete difference in history that cultural similarity would be low.
Nevertheless, when I began the course, I believed most of the learning that I would have undergone would have been in relation to Finland. Yet, as proven, stereotypes can be problematic and my learning has mostly come from the Russian case.